Argentina will take on Spain in the final of the FIBA World Cup on Sunday in Beijing.
Argentina have surprised many people in their run to the final. Ranked fifth in the world, not many expected them to be in the reckoning on Sunday. But they will contest their third World Cup final at the Wukesong Sport Arena. Their last final came in 2002 when they lost to Yugoslavia in the showpiece event. Their squad was not at its best heading into this edition, but they have defied the odds to make the final.
A big reason for their run has been veteran Luis Scola. At the ripe age of 39, he has carried his side in China. Scola has scored 19.3 points per game this tournament, which is the highest for Argentina. His efficiency rating of 20.3 is the highest in his side. Facundo Campazzo and Gabriel Deck are the other players who have contributed in the scoring department. Scola leads the rebounds category as well, whereas Campazzo has taken responsibility in the assists category.
Argentina have won all their games in China, but their most impressive one came in their last game. Facing France in the semi-final, they recorded an 80-66 win. They outscored the French in each quarter to dominate the game. Scola was the main man for Argentina yet again, and he had 28 points and 13 rebounds in the game. France looked like the better team on paper, but Argentina had other ideas.
Spain will be the team standing between them and the ultimate prize. Their semi-final encounter was not as straightforward. Australia took them to overtime, in which they claimed a 95-88 victory. Marc Gasol scored 33 points for Spain to counter the 34 Patty Mills dropped for Australia. Gasol has been impressive for Spain throughout the tournament.
The Toronto Raptor has 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game so far. Only Ricky Rubio has scored more at 15.9 per game, and he leads the efficiency charts for Spain with a rating of 17.3. The semi-final with Australia was a nail-biter, as two overtimes were needed to get a winner. Spain were trailing heading into the fourth quarter, but they fought back to force the overtime.
Argentina vs Spain Tips
Spain will head into their second World Cup final. The last one came in 2006 when they beat Greece in the final to claim the prize. Pau Gasol was the most valuable player of the tournament that time, and the pressure will be on his brother Marc to deliver this time. Spain met Argentina in the FIBA World Championship in 2010 when the South Americans got the win.
Spain will be confident of reversing that result this time. They will be slight favorites, but the game will be tight. The point differential should be less than 10 points, and both sides should score over 70 points. Spain’s experience and talent should make the difference, and they should capture the glory.